It’s the movie that finally did it for a very talented actor, and in this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about The Revenant.
1. It’s the movie that finally did it for Leo!
He doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to Academy Awards, because after finally winning in 2016, he lost his next nomination yet again in 2020 for his performance in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
Apart from winning an Oscar, he also won a total of 32 other awards for his portrayal of Hugh Glass in The Revenant.
Make sure to check out our list with the top 10 DiCaprio movies as well!
2. Leo went through a lot to get his Oscar
The story of Irish American frontiersman Hugh Glass being mauled by a grizzly bear and left for dead by one of his companions in 1823 is one of hardship, suffering, and perseverance.
That’s exactly what Leo needed when portraying the man who suffered, so he went all the way when it came to preparing for his role.
Some of the things that were required were to eat raw bison liver, sleep in an animal carcass, and prepare to shoot the movie in temperatures below 25°C (-13°F).
3. The set was moved because it wasn’t cold enough
The first part of the movie was shot in Canada where the harsh winter conditions formed the perfect setting for the movie. The problem that arose though was that the shooting was behind schedule.
This resulted in the temperatures rising, and with summer approaching and snow melting, they had no choice but to move the entire movie set to the southern part of Argentina where the weather conditions were the same as the winters in Canada.
4. There was another option, but the director refused
Instead of packing all the bags and moving to the opposite end of the Americas, there was another, much easier solution to the problem.
They could simply shoot the movie in a studio and recreate the effect of harsh conditions using greenscreens.
The director of The Revenant, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, stated about this option that “If we ended up in greenscreen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of sh*t.”
That’s a fair point and we doubt Leo’s acting talent would have been able to save the movie if they had decided to go that route.
5. The original budget was more than doubled
The original budget to shoot the entire movie was calculated at USD 60 million. By July 2015, this had grown to a total of USD 95 million!
And then, they needed to move the entire set to the south of Argentina! This resulted in the budget growing to over USD 135 million.
The producers didn’t really mind though, because the movie grossed a total of USD 183.6 million in the United States alone, and a total of USD 535 million worldwide!
6. He wasn’t actually supposed to eat raw bison liver
Leonardo DiCaprio had seen Arthur RedCloud, who plays the role of “Hikuc” in the movie, eat raw bison liver on set so often that he was getting quite comfortable with the idea of eating it himself.
At least, that’s the theory behind what happens. He was actually supposed to eat a red, gelatinous pancake, which didn’t resemble a real bison liver at all.
Leo, who is actually a vegetarian, didn’t like it and chose to eat the real thing instead. A mistake that he claims he “won’t be repeating once in his entire life again.”
7. Tom Hardy got a tattoo after losing a bet with Leo
There was a little wager going on during the shooting of The Revenant, and the stakes weren’t trivial. The loser would have to get a tattoo of choice of the winner on his body!
The question to answer was whether or not Tom Hardy would receive an Oscar nomination for his role in the movie. Leo thought he would, Tom thought he wouldn’t.
Since he did receive a nomination, Tom lost the bet and he got a big tattoo on his right arm now saying “LEO KNOWS ALL.”
Luckily, he didn’t mind because he’s covered in tattoos anyways!
8. It was Arthur RedCloud’s debut
One of the most interesting facts about The Revenant is that it was the first time that Arthur RedCloud had appeared in a film.
Before starring as “Hikuc” in this movie, he used to work as a truck driver in Texas in the business of transporting oil.
Quite a career change, isn’t it?
9. Arthur RedCloud never realized how important his part was
Since this was his debut in a movie, he expected to get a small, trivial role. When he headed over to Canada and set foot on the set, he started to realize that he wasn’t playing a role in the background at all.
It wasn’t until that moment that he realized that he was supposed to play one of the main characters in the movie.
About this he stated: “You usually have to get a small part in a major film and then work your way to a huge major role, especially working with a director like that, as well as an actor like Mr. DiCaprio.”
10. This movie was supposed to be made earlier
Leonardo DiCaprio is a busy actor. This means that he literally has to luxury to pick the movie he wants to star in.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu already wanted to make this movie back in 2013, but Leo decided to commit to “The Wolf of Wall Street” instead, a role and movie that earned him 2 Oscar nominations (which he both lost by the way).
Iñárritu decided to make “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” instead back in 2014.
The following year, Leo had the chance to play in “Steve Jobs” together with Kate Winslet, but he decided to commit to “The Revenant” this time, which was obviously a great choice!
11. It wasn’t the first time the story was turned into a movie
The story of Hugh Glass, which happened in 1823, inspired movie makers earlier. The 1971 movie “Man in the Wilderness” portrays the same story of the man left for dead after being mauled by a grizzly bear.
Richard Harris takes on the role of the main character in the 1970s version, an actor known for his roles as “Marcus Aurelius” in the blockbuster “Gladiator” (2000), gunfighter “English Bob” in the Clint Eastwood western “Unforgiven” (1992), and as “Albus Dumbledore” in the “Harry Potter movies.”
12. Where was the Revenant shot?
The movie was shot in a total of 12 different locations and 3 different countries. The majority of the shooting took place in Canada, more specifically in British Columbia and Alberta. This included Squamish, Fortress Mountain, and Mammoth Studios in Burnaby.
The final part of the movie was shot in the southern tip of Argentina which had the snow on the ground needed to make the setting as realistic as possible.
13. DiCaprio had a bit of an embarrassing moment
We all know that Leonardo DiCaprio is an environmentalist who spreads the word about climate change all around the world through lectures and documentaries.
When shooting in Calgary, Canada, he believed he noticed climate change first-hand when the weather suddenly changed and a desolate winter landscape was turned into a spring-like one in a matter of days.
He was obviously the first person to comment on this, unaware that this phenomenon is referred to as a “Chinook,” a type of hot wind that creates spring-like conditions in the middle of a cold winter. This phenomenon exists for as long as the weather has been recorded in the area.
The locals couldn’t help but mock Leo a bit when he called this “Chinook” a “terrifying sign of global warming.”
14. There’s a link between The Revenant and Star Wars
The real story of Hugh Glass has a pretty horrific detail. He actually cut open his own horse so he could sleep in it to stay warm during the harsh winter conditions.
This detail actually inspired the producers of “Star Wars – Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back,” because, in that movie, Han Solo cuts open a “tauntaun” for Luke Skywalker to sleep in during a cold blizzard.
15. An avalanche was artificially created
In one of the scenes of the movie, we can see an avalanche, and no, this isn’t a special effect but a real avalanche happening!
This avalanche was triggered by airplanes dropping explosives on Fortress Mountain in Alberta, Canada. Cranes were installed in a specific location to capture the avalanche after the explosives went off.
Needless to say that director Alejandro G. Iñárritu was a bit nervous to shoot this scene because there was only one chance to capture it. He simply referred to this as “stressful but thrilling.”
We tend to believe that he just wants to completely forget all about the nerve-wracking build-up to this amazing scene.
16. The buffalo skulls have a deeper meaning
In the 1870s, people were encouraged to kill buffalo in an attempt to take away the food source of Native Americans. This allowed the government to have more control over the relocation of Native Americans.
A horrible picture was taken of the extent of the situation, which inspired the director to use this in a dream sequence of Hugh Glass.
Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu remarked about the use of this image: “In the film, for me, it signifies Hugh Glass seeing into the future. Those skulls represented the end of mankind as we knew it at that point.”
17. This was another first for Leo
One of the most intriguing facts about The Revenant is that it was the first time in his career that Leonardo DiCaprio had to play a non-vocal character.
The movie is about 2 hours and 36 minutes long (which is the longest movie Iñárritu ever created as well), and the main character portrayed by Leo only has about 10 minutes of dialogue in the entire movie.
He referred to this as:
It was a different type of challenge for me because I’ve played a lot of very vocal characters. It’s something that I really wanted to investigate, playing a character who says almost nothing. How do you relay an emotional journey and get in tune with this man’s angst … without words?Leonardo DiCaprio talking about his character in The Revenant.
All we can say is that he did an amazing job and that he thoroughly deserved to finally win an Oscar for his performance!